Reg Hann
Reg Hann, two days before his 100th birthday. Photo taken on 7 February 2024 (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

The man who came up with the idea of building Cwmbran Boating Lake has celebrated his 100th birthday and received a personal letter from the most senior officer in the Royal Navy.

In 1950, Reg Hann started working for Cwmbran Development Corporation and later Cwmbran Urban District Council. He was the new town’s civil engineer and surveyor and put forward ideas on how the area could be developed.

Warrant Officer Rob Govier and Commanding Officer Carolyn Jones, both from HMS Cambria, with Reg Hann
Warrant Officer Rob Govier and Commanding Officer Carolyn Jones, both from HMS Cambria, with Reg Hann (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

During WWII, Mr Hann served in the Royal Navy and helped liberate France on D-Day in 1944. To mark his 100th birthday, Commanding Officer Carolyn Jones and Warrant Officer Rob Govier, both from HMS Cambria in Cardiff, visited his Pontnewydd home.

WO1 Govier read Mr Hann a personal letter from the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Ben Key.

a letter to Reg Hann from the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Ben Key
The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Ben Key’s letter to Reg Hann (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

After WWII, Reg resumed his service in the Royal Naval Reserves and was Captain and Commanding Officer of HMS Cambria.

As Cwmbran grew he knew a town needed green space and areas where children and families could enjoy their leisure time. In an earlier role, he had worked on Roath Park Lake in Cardiff and felt something similar would be a success in Cwmbran.

The Boating Lake was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne on 12 November 1971.

Cwmbran Life spoke to Mr Hann at his home in Pontnewydd on Wednesday 7 February, two days before he turned 100 on Friday 9 February.

He said: “I saw lots of opportunities (when he started work in Cwmbran) but it was a very neglected and semi-rundown area and needed improvements and I tried my best I suppose to bring about some improvements to Cwmbran.

“The Boating Lake was one of those. At first, when I brought out the idea of developing a Boating Lake, everyone said ‘oh rubbish’ but it’s worked.

“I walked around the Boating Lake one day, and I had to shake my head, it’s so popular, you know. And it’s grown into what I think I originally envisaged all those years ago.

“I enjoyed my time in Cwmbran. It was a big chunk of my life of course.

“Cwmbran had been very badly neglected at the time and I was a bit younger and a bit more agile and I was given scope by a very trusting council to do all sorts of what I saw to be good things.

“And fortunately, most of them were what the district wanted. Cwmbran had been very badly managed and it needed a young, energetic man with ideas to stir it up a bit.

“And I’ve been lucky that I was able to carry a succession of councillors with me who were willing to go forward and support a lot of the ideas that I was able to present to them.

“Yes, I’m quite proud of Cwmbran as it is and think, well, I helped.

“It was exciting for me. But I was fortunate in that I had a fairly new and youngish town council and that helped considerably.

“And I was a young man and full of energy and stirred it all up, I think. No, I’ve no regrets about Cwmbran.

“People ask me ‘why did I spend the rest of my life in Cwmbran?’

“And my one answer is, I couldn’t find a better place. I had happy days in Cwmbran.”

VIDEO: Reg talks about his work in Cwmbran

VIDEO: The letter from Admiral Sir Ben Key is read to Reg